Wednesday 7 May 2014

It's ok to look down

mobile phone
such mobile. very phone.
 I've been seeing the Look Up video by Gary Turk doing the rounds on Facebook recently, and to be honest, it annoys me. Other than the fact that I find its attempts to tug on the heartstrings to be depressingly transparent, here's why.

When I was a child, I was often lonely. I had no siblings, I had good friends but they didn't live close to me. I couldn't just go into the park and play with them. If I went into the park I went alone. School holidays were lonely for me too. But I know that if I'd had the internet then, I wouldn't have felt quite so alone. I sometimes feel now that I'm not worth anyone's time; text messages and Facebook mean that I can say things and share things without being held back by that feeling- I feel as though I'm giving other people the choice whether to spend time and interact with me and I'm honoured if they do but I'm not pressuring them.

I have genuine, loving relationships with people on the other side of the world and I truly believe that technology can help us start to think of everyone as people, not just the handful we interact with on a daily basis in the 'real' world. I've seen lots of people find love and lasting relationships by means of websites and technology.

I do think it's sad when you're in a social setting everyone is glued to their screens, and I think we should be conscious of when it's happening and unplug and put things away. And I know that people can use the internet for terrible things, like picking on and bullying the vulnerable. But there was no mythical time when everyone was connected in the real world. Loneliness wasn't caused by smartphones.

When I spent weeks sitting in my living room after surgery because I had to have my leg immobile, my online friends were my only friends most days. They were there for me in a way that real life friends often couldn't be because they had their lives to lead and I couldn't physically go and join them in that.

So by all means, go out, talk to people. Enjoy the moment and don't be obsessed with recording it for likes. Take advantage of the good parts of technology, try to resist the bad parts, and don't feel guilty for not unplugging or self righteous because you do. Look up every once in a while but don't let your head get lost in the clouds.